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Many, many years ago I bought a Brazilian boxwood trunk. I had it rough sawn into planks ranging from 3/4” to 1/16” thicknesses (see attached photos). The planks are about 36” long. I now want to use this now well-seasoned wood for a model, but I need to finish the timber before I can use it. I’m seeking advice as to the best and most accurate way to achieve a smooth surface finish with a consistent thickness throughout the length of each plank. Should I use a planner/sander, or...?


With thanks in advance!




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What is the scale that you build to?

for which parts will you be using this stock?


A power planner = a smooth surface but at a significant cost in lost material ...  ~1/8" or more per surface.

There are sanding planners that can take wide stock, but I am thinking that they are limited to large shops -

the machines are expensive and the cutting medium is also expensive.

The size of thickness sander that we use limits the width of the stock.  It saves on how much stock is lost to get a

smooth surface.  It just takes a lot of passes, at a cost of your time (and lungs if you do not sequester the dust) .



I would use the raw stock as you have it now to reduce further.

I think that resawing is one of the more challenging operations.

A table saw can get you a smooth enough surface, for minimal finish sander passes,  but the kerf loss can add up,  and that thing is just waiting to eat your fingers.

The blade is less prone to wander - so you do not have to adjust between passes as much -( flipping the board if it is cutting a wedge.)

A band saw is safer and the kerf loss is much less,  the surface is rougher and takes more passes thru the thickness sander.

A low kerf Woodslicer blade yields a smoother surface,  but it costs more and the Boxwood is hard and will dull either a bandsaw blade

or eventually a circular saw blade more quickly than most wood species.


With rough stock, it can be tricky with the raw face against the fence and it is a coin flip for whether to do a thin sacrifice for the first pass

or do a standard cut and know that it will take more thickness sander passes and come out below spec and have to be used for another part.


For badly cupped boards - cut down along the crown of the cup - and get two flatter boards.

I buy rough stock.  It is more work, but knowing that a 4 sided finished board sold as 1" is actually 3/4" means to me that 25% has already been lost

before I start.


Sorry for the following, as it does not help you:

I would have cut the log into 2" planks and some 1". 

I do POF and the stock cost for framing timbers far exceeds that of any other component.

I build to a larger scale = 1:60.  It is close to 1/4" scale but at 1/2 the volume, a model is less over powering in size. ( But, the first rate I just got in frame

is still giving me pause - 4 feet is still a lot of ship.)

I band saw the 2" into stock for my thickness sander to get 2" wide planks that are the thickness of the frame timbers. My game is to find the band saw cut thickness

that will yield a finished two sides without extra passes.

It does not matter that the vertical edges are rough - i just fudge the frame patterns in a bit).  I imagine that at 1/4" - the pattern placement might yield more stock lost to waste,

but I get fairly efficient yield with 2" at 1:60.  My band saw is only 3/4 HP and 2" works it enough.




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Jaager’s excellent advice does not mention a jointer but it can be quite useful when reducing rough stock.  A warped, cupped or twisted board is hard to cut on a table saw or band saw without the blade binding and that is when accidents happen.  With a jointer you can plane one surface.  You then have a flat surface to lay on your band saw or table saw table for ripping stock. They are not easy to use but hollow ground table saw blades will produce smooth surfaces.  Don’t try to use them if dull as they will burn the edges of your planking.  



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I should add that none of the planks/boards have warped; they are as straight as when first cut back in the late 1970s! Also, the planks are as shown in the photos (taken earlier today). They are less than 3” wide. This means that some of Jagger’s advice might be irrelevant???


It might help if I took photos of the surface of a sample plank, if only to show that the surface is not as rough as might be suggested or implied in my original post. Time permitting, I’ll try and do this tomorrow.


And in answer to Jaager’s opening questions, the scale will be 1:64 (Imperial), whilst the stock is planned to be used for framing, etc.

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At 3 inches, it would fit a Byrnes thickness sander just fine.

I predate that machine at all this, so to get that type machine

required building my own from NRG plans since lost.  I sized the roller to take 11 x 9 sheets.

Now, I would make it 12 x 9 - as the Klingspor cloth backed media that I use

comes at 4 inch width,  I mount 80 grit and 220 grit and trim off 1 inch

from 150 grit.  The 80 gets the most work.  I would also not enclose the

motor compartment now - just the sides - motor heat wants air circulation.


I do not have an edger, but I plan to use a fence on my drum sanding table

and maybe use a Microplane shaper, if not 80 grit on the drum.

Usually I waste the first pass thru the table saw ( a Byrens machine now).

If it were my stock, I would not wish the loss a blade thickness machine would produce.

I like 24 inch length for my stock, I would find 36 inches a bit cumbersome.

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On a band saw, another way to work unstable stock, like a warped board or a log is to

fix it to a carrier plank and sacrifice part of it at the fence along with the stock.

Or, if the subject piece is not too wide have the fence far inside as well as the carrier

and have the stock overhang and only it be cut.  Framing brackets and drywall screws 

can produce a rigid mounting. system.

I don't have a jointer or edger.  Perhaps if I had been interested in cabinetry or furniture making....


Although unsaid, you are right about a thickness sander taking a whole lot of passes to work down

seriously marred stock.  Hours of really boring work.


Roger, how do you control the sawdust? 

I made a open bottom box with a 2.5" hose connector

on the top to sit over the drum.  I made the box using three layers of Amazon box corrugated cardboard - using a liberal

layer of Titebond to bind them and 1/4"x1/4" pine sticks reinforcing the inside corners.  The volume of dust was

tough on the shop vac until I added Dust Deputy cyclone trap inline.



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I am fortunate to have space to have two shops, a model building shop and a shop for rough work where I store lumber and use my jointer, table saw and thickness sander.  I have never done a good job of controlling dust.  Our house has had a 1990 vintage forced air heating system with a high efficiency air filter, and last fall we replaced it.  I was surprised how much less dust finds its way upstairs.  I recently bought a Dust Deputy and will rig up a proper system when I finish my current modelling project.



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